Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Library Card

Haven't used mine in years:

"As libraries cut budgets for books, patrons fight to keep them on shelves" by Michael S. Rosenwald Washington Post  July 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — The hallmark of public libraries — the printed book, bound by covers and centuries of page-turning — is being shoved aside by digital doppelgangers.

Around the country, libraries are slashing their print collections in favor of e-books, prompting battles between library systems and print purists, including not only the prepixel generation but digital natives who represent a sizable portion of the 1.5 billion library visits a year and prefer print for serious reading.

I can't take print seriously anymore.

Some of the clashes have been heated. In New York, protesters outside the city’s main branch have shouted: ‘‘Save the stacks! Save the stacks!’’

In Northern Virginia, the Fairfax County library system chief recently mused that the Friends of the Library were no longer friends — a feud fueled by outrage over a print collection that has shrunk by more than 300,000 books since 2009. The drop in Washington is even more dramatic: Nearly 1 million books have vanished since 2009.

Where did they go? Not burned?

‘‘To say Gutenberg’s days are over is a terrible mistake,’’ said Dennis Hays, a former US ambassador and chairman of Fairfax Library Advocates, a group of residents at war with library officials. ‘‘Nothing can take the place of a book.’’

There is a certain amount of truth to that.

Librarians are feeling the heat.

‘‘We’re caught between two worlds,’’ said Darrell Batson, director of the Frederick County Public Libraries system in Maryland, where the print collection has fallen 20 percent since 2009. ‘‘But libraries have to evolve or die. We’re probably the classic example of Darwinism.’’

How sad that we can't have both.

The evolution of information flow has forced their hands, librarians say. Just as books advanced from slabs of parchment to paperbacks, they are transforming again, from paper to pixels. With Plato only a download away, libraries have lost their monopoly on knowledge.

In evolving, librarians are steering tight acquisition budgets to e-books, which are more expensive than print because, among other reasons, publishers fear large databases of free e-books will hurt their business. E-book spending has grown from 1 percent of library budgets to 7 percent, according to a Library Journal survey.

One library in San Antonio went much further, opening a bookless, all-digital branch called BiblioTech.

Meanwhile, print book budgets are slipping fast — from 67 percent of acquisitions in 2008 to 59 percent in 2015 — with reference titles bearing the biggest cuts so far. Asked why, Batson turned to his computer, opened his browser and typed ‘‘That’s why,’’ he said.

With the newfound physical space, libraries are adding rooms for community meetings, hacker spaces with 3-D printers, and entrepreneur centers to help small businesses.

RelatedHot Off the Printer

You can check it out in the Silicon Valley library.

In the process, centuries-old library traditions have been abandoned. Recent branch renovations in the region have grouped fiction and nonfiction titles together. There is a lot less shushing: Instead of discouraging noise throughout the stacks, libraries now set aside special areas for quiet contemplation. Want to bring your lunch? No problem.

To library futurists, this is progress.

‘‘For a lot of people, libraries represent a certain kind of quiet, a certain kind of place, a certain kind of book in large numbers,’’ said Matthew Battles, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and coauthor of ‘‘Library Beyond the Book.’’ ‘‘These are beautiful ideas and ideals. But they demand reinterpretation and cultivation from generation to generation.’’

To library purists, this is nonsense.

‘‘I get the sense that a lot of people have a feeling that tech has just moved along, that books are these old-fashioned things, that everything is going to be on the Internet, that a Kindle and Google is all you need,’’ Hays said. ‘‘But getting reliable information is a constant challenge today. Libraries help people find the credible information they need.’’

The purists say the futurists are pushing budget-busting e-books when large swaths of society still want print, particularly as research emerges showing print provides a more immersive, less distracting reading experience.



Actually, one of the reasons I'm not here as much as I would like or should be is because I am reading more books. 

Now where did I put that card?

"Fear of Alzheimer’s disease can prompt lifestyle changes; Concerns are not limited to people with higher risk" by Fredrick Kunkle Washington Post  July 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — Jamie Tyrone, a registered nurse who lives in San Diego, decided to fight back. She exercised, changed her diet, and began taking supplements, including fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin B12, curcumin, turmeric, and an antioxidant called CoQ10.

She started meditating and working mind-bending puzzles, such as Brain HQ. She joined a health clinic whose regimen is shaped by a UCLA medical study on lifestyle changes that can reverse memory loss in people with symptoms of dementia. She started a nonprofit group, Beating Alzheimer’s By Embracing Science (BABES), to raise money and awareness about dementia.

Perhaps the only thing as bad as Alzheimer’s disease is the fear among a growing number of older Americans that they may be at risk for the neurodegenerative disorder, which robs memory and cognitive ability and is the leading cause of dementia.

Well, it certainly tops my list. The loss of one's mind....

A 2011 survey for the MetLife Foundation found that the only disease more dreaded than Alzheimer’s was cancer.

Neither one good.

What causes such things? Some have their suspicions, science (or is that $cience) doesn't seem to have a clue.

A Harris Poll conducted in April for Aegis Living found that the worries cross all generations: more than 75 percent of millennials, Generation Xers, and baby boomers worry about what will happen to their memory as they age.

Worrying about it might make it worse.

Some, like Tyrone, fear Alzheimer’s because genetic testing shows that their risks are higher than for others.

I would fear the results of the test.

Many more fear Alzheimer’s because they saw what the incurable disease can do. They saw a relative slip away through the steady erosion of memory, cognition, and identity as the disease progressed.

Now they worry whenever they misplace something or forget a name, and vow that they will do whatever they can to prevent or delay its onset.

‘‘It’s my nightmare: the loss of my mind; the inability to recognize people who are dear to me; the ability to think,’’ said Charles Goldman, 71, a semiretired attorney who lives in Silver Spring, Md. Goldman, whose mother had Alzheimer’s, said he is vigilant for possible lapses in his own memory, but he also does everything he can to lower his risk of developing dementia.

He works out at a center. He reads like crazy, both fiction and nonfiction. He follows the news about possible new treatments or research studies. He does the crossword puzzles of every Sunday paper he can get his hands on. He gobbles almonds.

I didn't want to admit it, but I've found myself spending more time on those. Easy when they are in print.

‘‘I can accept the idea I won’t be able to run 10K races. I can’t accept not being able to understand what people are saying or recognize people.’’

I'm still playing hoop. Is that good?

Joanne Omang, a former Washington Post correspondent, also watched her mother die of Alzheimer’s and saw how dementia transformed her and others.


‘‘People become like children in many ways. They steal food. They fight having baths. They become violent in many ways,’’ she said. 

I rented from a guy whose wife was going that way fast, and have known a few others.

It’s different than death, and in some ways worse, the way her own mother seemed to disappear before her eyes, Omang said.

Like others, that was enough to spur her into action. Omang doesn’t consider herself a worrier, but ‘‘when I simply cannot remember the name of someone or something, when I know that I know it, I do ask myself, ‘Is this a sign?’ ‘‘ she said in an e-mail. ‘‘I’m keeping count.’’

I'm not keeping count.

So Omang eats blueberries every day, having seen studies suggesting that the fruit is beneficial for brain health.

I could probably use more, but....

She hits the gym almost every day for strength and aerobic workouts. She does word puzzles and keeps up the Spanish skills she honed in Latin America as a foreign correspondent. And she said that if she should develop dementia, she will move to a state that permits euthanasia so that she can die in peace.

Won't be California.

More than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and as the population’s median age rises, the number of cases is expected to increase to 13.5 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

All of a sudden I saw $$$$$, and my suspicions -- backed by what I've read on blogs -- are the chemicals in the food and so many other products these days. 

At least the pharmaceuticals won't be forgotten.

But the risks can also be overstated, especially for early-onset forms of dementia. Unless one has a genetic predisposition, Alzheimer’s strikes the majority of people after the age of 65, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. But aging itself is the biggest risk factor: The longer you live, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

You know what is demented?


Remember what book you chose?